Monday, March 29, 2010

Religious Faith and Choosing Natural Birth

I think about this topic all the time, but I never really throw it out there. Going down the path of religion and its influence on our decisions has the potential of alienating readers. Sitting in church this week, I decided it was time to face this topic. This is my elephant.

In nearly every class I've taught since 2003, there has been at least one person/couple who is very involved in their church; ie. lots of youth ministers, music ministers, preachers, etc. Especially since moving to Texas, the majority of the people sitting in my classes go to church every week and are very vocal about their faith. They pray for each other. Some go to church together. They are mostly Christian.

When we talk about why they are choosing to give birth without medication, so many of these couples will express their belief that God made their bodies to give birth. It is a gift to be able to grow a life, birth their baby, and then to feed their baby with their own body. They have so much confidence and faith in Christ, it is very inspiring. I love these answers because I feel this same way.

The same is true of so many out-of-hospital midwives in this area. They feel "called" to midwifery. They pray with their clients and typically are very vocal in their faith. Faith in Christ and faith in the natural process of birth.

Our bodies were designed by our loving Father in Heaven to work perfectly to birth our babies. I do not believe for a minute that He meant birth to be a horrible, painful ordeal that we just "have to get through."

So, this brings me to my own life, and the things that I see with people around me. Truly, a Banned From Baby Showers experience, or existence, rather. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka Mormons. I was raised in the Baptist church and converted to the "LDS" church in 1993. I have never been around a better group of people in my life -- truly, servants of the Lord.

I had a guy in class a few years ago ask if Mormons have natural birth because we don't believe in medicine. I actually laughed out loud! If he only knew the majority of my friends! Nearly everyone I know in the Church has an epidural! I am so saddened by this, and embarrassed. I rarely have members of my church in my classes. So many of us have several children, but don't understand why several c-sections is bad for mom and baby. Or why induction is not natural or healthy.

In several lessons I've heard in church, I've heard people comment on fear. Fear in general, of anything. Fear is not given to us by our Heavenly Father, but by Satan. Today it was brought up again, and the comment was made about making decisions that are fear-based. Of course, I associate everything with childbirth, and it's all I can do to keep my hand down and not make a comment related to childbirth! Talk about a fear-based decision! The only reason a woman chooses to have an epidural (before labor even begins!) is because she is afraid of the pain -- and has not prepared herself physically, mentally, or emotionally to not have the drugs.

But isn't it true? We have no confidence in our body -- that our Heavenly Father created for us -- to birth these (large) families. He created this process so perfectly, right down to the hormones released before, during, and after birth that help bond a mother and her new baby together. Fetal lung fluid levels prepare your baby to be born at the exact time he/she is ready to breathe on its own. The system works so well, the majority of the time, because Heavenly Father designed it to work that way.

To believe that medicine can improve upon the natural process, I believe, is to laugh in the face of our Creator, who designed this process so perfectly. Unless there is medical indication for induction or medication (and these do occasionally occur), we, as Latter-day Saint women, should learn from our other Christian counterparts, about trusting in and having faith in Christ and faith in our bodies.

I have seen the strongest women in the Church and in their faith in Christ, and that is why this baffles me to no end, about the nonchalant attitude about being induced and having epidurals. Sisters! Think about our pioneer heritage! Heavenly Father wants you to have this wonderful experience. It is a gift. You can do it! Don't be afraid.

I will go as far as mentioning the frequency of birth stories that I read from my students that talk about birth being one of the most spiritual experiences of their lives. Makes sense. This new spirit joining your family. How special to feel that moment. To be an active participant in bringing your baby forth into this world. I believe that this is what God wants for us as women.

I cannot let it go without ending with a quote from our beloved prophet who led the pioneers across the plains. Brigham Young said, "Would you want doctors? Yes, to set bones. We should want a good surgeon for that, or to cut off a limb. (!!) But do you want doctors? For not much of anything else, let me tell you, only the traditions of the people lead them to think so; and here is a growing evil in our midst. It will be so in a little time that not a woman in all Israel will dare to have a baby unless she can have a doctor by her. I will tell you what to do, you ladies, when you find you are going to have an increase, go off into some country where you cannot call for a doctor, and see if you can keep it. I guess you will have it, and I guess it will be all right, too." I do not know what year he made that statement, but Brigham Young died in 1879 when no one would have had a baby in a hospital or with a doctor.

Sisters! Brigham Young saw our day! He saw all the c-sections and lack of confidence we have in ourselves. He said women should "go off into some country where you cannot call for a doctor... You will have it, and ... it will be all right." When he made that statement, doctors did not attend any births! Now, only 8% of American births are attended by a midwife. Interestingly, Utah has the lowest c-section rate in the country.

And since I'm making comments about my existence and what I see around me... I see so many babies getting fed with a bottle. I assume it is formula, but it could be breast milk. Doesn't really matter to me. Why would you put breast milk in a bottle and drag that to church!? Just breastfeed your baby. Please. Your breasts are on your chest for the sole purpose of feeding your baby! Again, Heavenly Father must be so displeased with our culture of not using our body parts the way He intended.

I have probably angered people with this post. This is really not my intention. I needed to say these things. I believe them. I feel strongly, after years of research and seeing women transformed by birth, that there is no way it is a coincidence that womens' bodies work the way they do. Embrace birth and give thanks to your Father in Heaven who allows you to be co-Creator in the birth of your baby.

53 comments:

Diana J. said...

I loved this post! I am going to link to it as soon as I can. :)

Mallory said...

Oh, I agree with you so much! I'm always making controversial comments/posts/discussion. It can be quite disheartening, because I really believe what I believe. Very few others support and agree with me. Thank you for this post!

Allison said...

AMEN Sister!! and Hallelujah for our bodies and to the miracles they were created to accomplish and to Him who created them.

The world needs more women like you Donna--thanks for sharing your passion!

April said...

I LOVE this post! You worded it all so eloquently. Thank you for sharing your heart, my friend.

Sarah said...

Well said! I think the same way and I am happy to have found your blog. - Sarah in Austin,TX

Jolee said...

Donna, I think this will speak to many, and although I would phrase it differently, I believe the *exact* same thing. Well said, sister!

Hannah Reasoner said...

This is very inspiring! Our bodies are so amazing. Not just because we can conceive, carry a child, and give birth, but also because of how we were so delicately designed.

I think that the book "Supernatural Childbirth: Experiencing the Promises of God Concerning Conception and Delivery" goes right along with all of what you just wrote.

Anonymous said...

Could you give me information on where you found the quote from Brigham Young. I love it and would like to share it with my husband.
Thanks,
Marguerite
lamagona@yahoo.com

Donna Ryan said...

That quote by Brigham Young is found in Brigham Young Discourses Vol. 15 "The Order of Enoch," page 225.

Sarah said...

Great post Donna. I personally know many LDS women who feel that way- they just aren't as vocal about it as the nay-sayers are. Not to mention not many live around here ;) You are doing a good work!

Mellanie said...

I am not LDS but I can certainly add my big AMEN! This is not just an issue in the LDS church, but in most other churches as well. I so often want to say just what you so beautifully wrote. Thank you for having the courage to do it!

dainingrid said...

Donna,
You speak to my heart. Especially about fear, because I have so much of it and need to trust my body! Thanks for your words.

The Mama said...

I'm w/ Mellanie - not LDS but still view it as a real issue in our church. The bible says that He hasn't given us a spirit of fear... love it!

Janet said...

Thanks for being brave and facing this topic. I agree wholeheartedly but just like a birth historian commented in the birth video I most recently viewed--I don't feel able to share my positive birth experiences because I do not want to make anyone feel bad . . . so I keep them to myself. Good for you for sharing!!! I feel sad that it is such a controversial subject and that I can't talk about it with most of my friends without offending them. So, so sad.

thoughtfulbirth said...

How could we be offended at the truth? ;) Birth is a spiritual matter. Ignoring that aspect doesn't change it--it just makes us less prepared for the power of birth and unaware of how our choices can affect our family's spirituality. Thank you for expressing your views!

Janet: I am constantly searching for a way to share my wonderful birth experience that allows other women to see it as a hope for their future births, not a criticism of their previous ones! We'll get there one day.

Anonymous said...

Sex is not merely a physical act, but a spiritual one. The same goes with birth. Christianity of today is removing the spiritual aspect of it. :(

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your thoughts here, but I have a question.

What about Genesis 3:16 -
To the woman God said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

I don't mean to offend, but where does that fit into your beautiful natural birth imagery? Clearly what birth is now is not what God intended or how God initially created us. I'm not necessarily saying that epidurals etc. are the way to go, but I think it's worth taking the Bible as Word of God into consideration here.

-Emily

Jessica said...

I really enjoyed this post, Donna. I saw a comment on facebook the other day that I thought was so true. It said, "The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing. So why do we apply for curses and prevent blessings?" Made me think about how God created our bodies to have babies.

And Emily, I know that verse from Genesis really well. I've actually thought that it almost supports the reason to choose natural childbirth because you do experience pain. Also, as someone who took Donna's class, she doesn't say that childbirth isn't painful. I don't think she's saying that in this post, either. Painful, grueling experiences can be beautiful. Jesus's death on the cross certainly wasn't pain free and excruciating, but it turned out beautifully when He resurrected! =)

Jessica said...

I noticed a grammar mistake, and that will drive me crazy. I meant that Jesus's death wasn't pain free and was excruciating.

Sorry!!!

Estee Marie said...

while preparing for Eva's birth, i did a whole lot of research. it became a bit of a passion for me too. natural childbirth just felt so right for me. i wish more women had a knowledgeable cheerleader who could hopefully give them the courage to face the fear she was talking about. i know the stats, i know the kind of medicalized system we are surrounded and influenced by. my first birth was textbook: from induction right through everything that led to my c-section. but i don't blame the doctors or the hospitals. they are a part of the system that i used and it was my fault for not educating myself. that is what i want to help others avoid. i want to educate. personally, i agree with what this lady is saying and i applaud her for being so thorough in conveying her beliefs. I am also a Mormon. As a faith, our leaders do not encourage one way or the other. Our faith is not so nit-picky. I feel that to some extent, Heavenly Father guided our scientific discoveries to the point they are now. certain men throughout history i believe to have been truly inspired. But we must also allow for the shortcomings of us simply being human and making a lot of mistakes along the way. birth seems to be coming full circle from the last time midwives were a simple part of life. Although i want other people to have the experience i did with Eva - for it was truly the closest I have felt to my Heavenly Father, it was amazing, like he was handing me one of his daughters to care for on this earth and i was overcome with gratitude for the chance - so though i want others to experience that, i feel that we still have our agency. I want women to be thoroughly educated, but then to get the kind of birth experience that they want. I will only feel sorry for those who don't know what they are missing!

Jeanette said...

Anon 4/2 13:37am

Use a King James bible - that is the true Word of God. The translation is more accurate and the word is sorrow, not pain and if you further research the translations of other verses, it says to travail in birth, which means labor.

Pain in childbirth is a very useful tool. It indicates to us ways to use our body, to alter what we are currently doing or to alert us to problems. And, if you know the Lord, you know He wants us to turn to Him for all our needs. What better way to connect Him, yourself and your baby then in prayer during labor...

Lena said...

That was obviously NOT Sarah, but me, Lena...

joyj811 said...

Emily,
I have to agree with Jeannette. I like the King James wording for that verse AND I agree that pain here is a good thing! I always try to explain to my friends that running a marathon is absolutely NOT pain free but it is an amazing noble experience. How much more so is bringing a child of God into this world! The "pain" of labor has helped me to know where I am at, what my body and baby needs, what position to get in. I cannot imagine labor and birth without those natural indicators to help the process along. Yes, I could- it would be strapped to a bed unable to feel my lower half and having a doctor tell me when I was ready to push. Ugh.

Thanks Donna for this post and I really appreciated everyone's comments.

Ritsumei said...

I have to chime in on the Genesis 3 topic. I'm in the middle of reading "Natural Childbirth and the Christian Family." I'm struggling to put my hands on the exact quote right this second, but the word that, in the King James, was rendered "labor" when God spoke to Adam was rendered "sorrow" when God spoke to Eve - even though it was the same word. This word, if I remember what I read correctly (It was just this past week; this is driving me crazy!) is used around 16 times in the Bible, and mostly is rendered into some form of work-labor-effort. UNLESS they were talking about birth.

As I read this, and some other things in the Natural Childbirth book, I was forcibly reminded of the 8th Article of Faith: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly..." I can't check the translations myself, not knowing Hebrew, but short of that, I don't know how to fact-check this claim, which I find to be VERY interesting!

Ritsumei said...

Ah, here's the quote that I was looking for earlier. It's in Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, page 39.

Through his own study into the Bible and from his association with biblical scholars, Dick-Read learned that the Hebrew word etzev, used sixteen times in the King James I version, is translated to mean "labor, toil, and work" throughout most Bibles, but when the same translators referred to childbirth, the word was interpreted to mean "pain, sorrow, anguish, or pangs." Other scholars, too, point out that the prophets made no such reference to pain in their writings on childbirth. Wessel [author of Natural Childbirth and the Christian Family] states that there was never an actual curse placed exclusively on Eve. In Genesis, God uses the very same wording in speaking to Adam as to Eve. The translators, though, influenced by the terrible conditions surrounding birth, chose to translate the dictum delivered to Eve differently.

For members of the LDS faith, I think that it is of use also to point out that we reject the doctrine of Original Sin - that we believe we will NOT be punished for Adam's transgression. The very idea of the "Curse of Eve" is that Eve transgressed first, thus she was punished in birth and her daughters with her which seems, to me, to be inconsistent with our theology.

sara said...

I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and I feel the same way about how our bodies are designed. Almighty God knew what he was doing when he designed the birth process, and therefore the less we mess with it, the better we will be.

I often think of the way humans were designed originally to live in Paradise, and with every parenting decision I made I ask myself if this is what God designed for mothers/babies to do, to interact, etc. Jehovah did not mean for having babies to be traumatic or a huge hardship on parents, and yet that is what this system would have us beleive- you have to buy this and that and have the latest greatest baby things, and no your body is broken so you won't go into labor on your own...but it's just the opposite. Babies just need loving parents and food, shelter, and maybe a little clothing :)

sara said...

Jeanette- had to comment on this, although I do not mean to derail the conversation- the King James Version is just a translation like the other Bible translations, and is not more accurate than more modern Bible translations. It was translated hundreds of years ago and since then older manuscripts have been discovered, which correct some wording errors in the KJV. It's called a Version, and not a translation, for that reason.

Jeanette said...

Sara,
I did refer to it as a translation and I know it is not the original bible, no one has the complete original text BUT many scholars (not religious leaders) do say it is the truest "translation".

Here's some reasons that I feel support this : The KJV is the only version that is copyright free. It also does not have many different adaptations of it as it does not need correction (any corrections were due to printer errors in spelling, etc). Other versions of the bible take out important words like "blood" and there are even verses that are left out (but ironically, they still number the bible verses the same way just skipping a number).

I'd be interested in these new discoveries of old manuscripts and how that shows error in the KJV.

Jessica said...

As another LDS member I have been frustrated by this as well. When I had my second baby naturally I felt so amazed at what God can do. It was a very reverent feeling. I wanted to share it with those around me. I lived in a college community with so many other LDS women having children and I was saddened by the fear that they displayed. And the comments made to me about "being a hero", etc. I have a hard time in church too when I hear the mom say to another member that she "has to be induced because she never goes into spontaneous labor" and the same comment comes from family members. Anyway, it is unfortunate that so many women have such strong faith in God, but yet doubt His ability to help us in bringing His precious children into the world.

Krista Eger said...

I saw the Religion and Birth in the topics and found this post. I live in the Mecca of Mormanism and I have to tell you something that I think is really funny! I don't know if this is my own perception, but I honestly felt like many LDS people would judge me for having a home birth in the same way they would judge people for SINNING! Of course they didn't come out and say it, but I grew up LDS and have a sense for what their judgement feels like! Seriously seriously seriously I feel like people think of the hospital like they do church! Doctors are bishops and if you don't obey them then you are going to hell! The other crazy part is that in this big valley the majority of home birth/natural birth advocates that I have met aren't LDS.
Obviously this is my perception. My family and close friends were supportive of my home birth. I LLLLLOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEE that Brigham Young quote! My husband will too! Thank you for sharing that! I will have to share it as well...but first I have to figure out a way to share it nicely without people feeling attacked haha!

Oh and also, there are SO many people that get us mixed up with polygamists that actually do not believe in medication. I lived in St. George for several years which is right by Colorado City, and although I don't agree with their religion I have to commend them for REALLY living their religion.

Julie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mahan said...

Thought you might like to know you were linked and there is a very enlightening discussion going on about your ideas.
http://community.babycenter.com/post/a27042931/brigham_youngs_quote_on_doctors-_controversial

Donielle said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR THIS! Sometimes I think I'm the only Mormon gal that feels this way! I felt like I was making a huge political statement by choosing to nurse my 2nd during sacrament meeting (and not under a baby blanket tent) instead of retreating to the nursing mothers' room. And I SOOO feel ya about having to sit on my hands during lessons about fear or pain or trials, etc. How are so many moms not making this connection??? I don't get it. But I am SO grateful for the gospel and for church leaders who don't for a second try to lead us women folk one way or another when it comes to our bodies and birth, etc. I'm hoping that those of us that have been "enlightened" so to speak can have an influence on eachother and the next generation of mothers and can help to change our culture of young lds families away from the mainstream american birthing/baby training culture. I wish we lived close to eachother! We would be friends! :)

Eliea said...

hi Donna!
While not a LDS I do agree whole heartedly with your conclusions and comments on this post!
My husband and I are both believers in our creator and that He put our bodies together to work a certain way. We have made many changes in our lifestyle based on this and when we got pregnant it seems only natural to apply the same thoughts to this stage in our lives too.
We also believe fear to be a tool of the enemy and have had to do a lot of praying about it and certain tests and things in this pregnancy and life in general.
Trust on the other hand is what God has asked of us. So the opposite of fear, and while something that takes work and time and is never really grown 100% in our lifetime it is something we should strive towards.
I say all that to say you've summed our conversations and thoughts up beautifully and I appreciate it!
Bethany

KAS said...

I'm coming into this super-late, but I thought I'd toss my thoughts into the fray. I'm Pagan, but I have the same general beliefs - that our bodies were made and designed for this, and that while doctors and medicine have their place and can be incredibly useful and life saving in some circumstances, in general, a healthy mom and baby don't need a doctor to attend their birth. They don't NEED to be at a hospital. They need supportive, knowledgeable people they trust with them (if they choose to have said people around; some women prefer to birth alone!) who can reassure them during transition that they can and will birth their children, and who can gently remind them that they can and will succeed without needing to be supervised by someone with an "OB" after their name.
I wish people of all religious backgrounds (or lack thereof) could at least come to terms with the idea that WE CAN DO THIS. We are women, we are strong, we raise our families and support them and ourselves and decide whether to spend our lives with someone or stay single, we work and play and clean and make our ways in life - why on earth should we NOT be able to birth our children!?
Thanks for a post that was incredibly insightful into your beliefs; I love learning about others see and think and how they perceive their world. :)

Ivy said...

Amen! I need to print this and distribute it in my ward!

nikalee said...

I missed this the first time you posted, but am glad to read it now. I grew up with and remain friends with many members of your church. I am not a member, but your words strongly echo my own feelings on the subject. I often suggest the book "Supernatural Childbirth" to friends and clients, because I fell that whether a woman is LDS, Christian, or secular, she can take a positive message from it. I've always found it sadly ironic that a country that boasts such a high number of believers in Christ, has such a low number of natural (faithful, God-trusting) births; but then there are so many other ways we are falling miserably short of being "good shepherds" of what we've been given that I suppose it's not surprising.

Samurai Mom said...

Thanks for this post, I loved it. Amen.

stayathomedivamom said...

Very much agree. Not LDS at all, but I agree with your post!

Mistie said...

I could not have said it better myself (nor could have my Midwife).

I am a natural birther, I am a homebirther, I nurse in public or private, I co-sleep, I do not practice cry-it-out, I am an intactivist, I rarely use western medicine, I follow the Word of Wisdom as contained in the Doctrine & Covenants, I encourage women to trust their bodies and to trust in the Lord and I am a "Mormon". Coincidentally, I also live in Utah.

Thank you Donna, I love this post and I will share it.

Mistie said...

Also concerning Brigham Young.. Did you know that he "called" for women to volunteer to go back east and learn to be a Doctor and come back to Utah and train women in the smaller communities to me Midwives? Ellis Reynolds Shipp was one of these women who chose to go study and become a Doctor in Boston and then came back and did travel teaching women how to be Midwives to attend to the women in their communities. She later started what is known as the LDS Hospital in SLC, with four other women who received their education back east.

Women were later called to positions of Midwife in their wards and stakes. Until OB's began their fear mongering to women and drove Midwives into the ground.

luckylass319 said...

As a Catholic, we glorify the pains of life and of childbirth as a way to join in the sufferings of the crucified Christ, yet many Catholic women still think an epidural birth is the same as a natural unmedicated one. It never ceases to amaze me!

Sesasha said...

I have this same thought every time I attend relief society and we talk about tribulations, motherhood or accessing the atonement. And I absolutely know that almost every woman in that room thinks I'm nuts for my choices not only to have unmedicated births, but to gasp birth my babies at home. I'm sure none of them realize that ward midwife was a calling back in the day.

Travis, Alison, & Bode said...

I agree with many of your comments. The only thing that bothered me about your post is your close-mindedness. If you would like others to accept you for your decisions with natural childbirth and nursing, then you should respect theirs to choose whatever means they believe is right for them to safely bring Heavenly Fathers child into this world.

The greatest lesson I have learned since marrying my husband is "you never know what someone's circumstances are". Maybe someone is speeding and driving recklessly to see a dying relative, maybe someone ignored you because their mind was on their failing business, or maybe someone (who is nursing) pumped breastmilk and fed it to their baby in a bottle so they could hear Sunday School or better yet so they could let their husband experience the bonding that happens while feeding.

To each their own, it is not for us to choose how people should live, or to judge them for what they choose.

Carrie Nicholes said...

There is nothing Christ-like about acting spiritually superior because you've chosen a path different from others around you. If you are spending your time at church noticing who is putting a bottle in their child's mouth (rather than focusing on the Savior), you've seriously missed the mark.

And I'd be interested to know how many prophets/general authorities wives had a doctor at their bedside or (gasp) an epidural. I'd like to hear you tell them that you are spiritually superior to them as well. ;)

Enjoy Birth said...

I have thought about this topic as well. I am LDS too and find it interesting how most women don't even want to think about natural birth, that it is not even something to consider. I actually have had more and more of my LDS friends taking my Hypnobabies classes and I am loving that. Almost every class I have taught in the last year has had at least 1 member couple in it. But for every one there are so many more that don't even want to think about their options.

This is where I have a problem. If someone researches and prepares for birth and chooses and epidural, that is fine, I completely support them in that. But most moms don't do any research or think about birth at all (except for it being a necessary evil for the baby to come out) and I feel like they are missing out on the amazing, empowering experience it can be.

Even with an epidural birth can be spiritual and empowering if one is open to it instead of afraid of it.

I am actually helping co-autor a book on spirituality and birth from a LDS perspective. www.thegiftofgivinglife.com We are hoping it will open more peoples eyes to how birth can be a spiritual experience.

eulogos said...

I am a Catholic. I found your post to be an interesting insight into LDS thought. Seriously religious Catholics and LDS have a lot in common as to the way they live, even though the theologies are very different.

I am (was, my children are grown now) a natural birther/homebirther, long term breastfeeder, and I also wondered at other women who shared my faith but saw no connection between that and their way of giving birth.

I think that women learn their attitudes towards birth from their families, from books, TV, influential friends, rather than coming to them as a religious conclusion. They also follow their husbands. Often husbands who are conservative religiously, are respectful of authorities, and doctors are taken as authorities, as you pointed out.

There may also be personality issues. Some people have a "Let me live to the fullest, even if some pain and stress is involved!" attitude towards life, and others guide their path either by a desire to stay in control, or a desire to avoid pain; not just physical pain, but the pain of disappointment or the judgment of others.
I have a feeling that the reason I wound up having the births I did, the reason I fought so hard to come back from my C section and birth naturally at home, was that my desire to experience everything was far greater than my desire to avoid pain. And I feared the control of others far more than I feared loss of self control.

These personality factors, some inherent, some learned, interact with societal factors to produce women's choices, and they seldom come out along religious lines.

Susan Peterson

Erica (Jones) Ward said...

I do agree with most of your post and appreciate your openness. But be kind and remember, there are women who's "body parts" don't work correctly or who HAVE to work outside the home or who mentally cannot handle the responsibility of breastfeeding due to certain aspects of their life and these women may not be able to breastfeed their children. I do not think God is any less pleased with them for bringing a child into the world and raising them in righteousness just because they are formula fed.

Regan said...

I am also LDS and have to say I don't really agree with a lot of this. For one, I would have died if my mom didn't give birth at a hospital. I had bone blocking both nostrils and was not breathing. This is hereditary which is why my worry would be that my babies may have the same issue. I do agree that the use of c-sections is over used but they also are necessary in many cases. If my best friend gave birth naturally, one of her twins would have died. I don't think she should feel like she's a bad person for doing what was best for her babies. I do believe that breast milk is very healthy for babies. I want to breast feed my babies as long as possible. But I also know plenty of moms who go through agonizing pain and pump instead. The baby is still getting the nutrients. There also are many women who go through labor for 30+ hours. I don't think they should be condemned for wanting an epidural. I honestly do not believe that we are evil because we use medicine or give birth in a hospital. I think it should be each woman's choice how they give birth and for those who go natural and are able to, more power to ya! I would like to as well but it really depends on each person's individual situation. I think the connection between a mother and child is beautiful and amazing and we as women are all so blessed that we have the opportunity to give birth. We should cherish it and feel grateful because not every woman can. I'm just so glad we have choices :)

Jenn said...

I know this is an old post, but I have to comment on how much I love it! Thank you for sharing your beliefs. When I was preparing for my second birth (a home birth), it was a very spiritual experience. My education and hypnosis practice definitely helped, but I still relied heavily on my faith. I was particularly anxious about the post-partum period, as I'd had difficulty breastfeeding my first and was just so exhausted. I felt like God spoke directly to me when I read a verse in 2 Nephi about the women in the wilderness having plenty of milk for their children and being as strong as the men, because of their faith. Whoa! I gained so much confidence from that verse.

Thanks for the awesome Brigham Young quote. That is the coolest thing I've read in a long time.

Sue Donym said...

The Brigham Young quote is irrelevant to LDS women today. First of all, it was a statement of opinion, not doctrine. Second, “The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age. This is the prophet who has today’s instructions from God to us. Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence” (Ezra Taft Benson).

We don’t live in Brigham Young’s day. We live in a day when prophets praise doctors:

“Much headway has been made, and mortality tables are encouraging; more infants survive, more mothers go through childbirth successfully . . . We are grateful to all those hardworking scientists who have contributed to this great accomplishment” (https://www.lds.org/new-era/1981/10/president-kimball-speaks-out-on-administration-to-the-sick?lang=eng).

There is no teaching anywhere—in scripture, Church magazines, manuals, conference talks, just nowhere—about how God wants His daughters to give birth. You don’t need to be embarrassed for the women in your ward who’ve had epidurals because they haven’t done anything wrong. Because if it were wrong we’d have been told explicitly.

“Instruction vital to our salvation is not hidden in an obscure verse or phrase in the scriptures. To the contrary, essential truths are repeated over and over again” (Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Nov. 1984, 66).

That’s not to say that Church leaders haven’t given us counsel on how to deal with matters of health. Elder Holland said this: “Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng.) On the specific topic of childbirth, current Church curriculum, approved by the First Presidency, says this:

“An expectant mother has a special opportunity to help prepare a body for one of Heavenly Father’s spirit children. . . . A woman can do many things before and during pregnancy to help her baby be born strong and healthy.

“Have Regular Medical Examinations. A woman should visit a doctor or a health clinic as soon as she suspects that she is pregnant. The doctor or the nurse will usually have her return for a checkup at regularly specified times during the pregnancy. Health workers, such as doctors and nurses, are trained to recognize problems that may arise during pregnancy. Therefore, it is wise to have regular checkups. In this way, the health worker can discover if something is wrong and help the expectant mother take precautions before the problem becomes serious” (The Latter-day Saint Woman Part B, Lesson 22).”

It doesn’t sound like Church leaders “trust birth,” does it? We have no guarantees that our bodies will work properly in childbirth: “Because of the nature of the Fall, our bodies are in a constant state of deterioration and subject to disease, sickness, disability, and death” (https://www.lds.org/church/news/viewpoint-why-there-is-suffering-in-the-world?lang=eng).

Sue Donym said...

LDS Charities contributes extensive funds and volunteer-hours in 42 countries, including the US, providing medical equipment and training in order to give women a level of maternity care above what is available at home birth. Those women thank God for that medical care. Meanwhile a few privileged LDS women flout that blessing because they think giving birth is all about their own personal experience. Of course a woman can gain spiritual insight from the childbirth process. But the purpose of birth is to “prepare a body for one of Heavenly Father’s spirit children.” When Brigham Young told women to go off into the country, did he tell them to take their birthing pools, their videographers, and their Boot Camp instructors? If you really believe in the natural process, you’ll acknowledge that for thousands of years, all women hoped for from birth was survival of mother and child. They didn’t call themselves pain warriors. They didn’t feel empowered. They were creating families.

Women are already empowered. They have the power to bring the Spirit into any birth situation. The Spirit is not daunted by bright lights, unfamiliar sounds, and strangers in scrubs. Surely the Lord must be pleased when women sacrifice their own preferences in order to provide the best chances for their babies. It's evident that the Church endorses medical care in childbirth; why should we doubt the faith of women who choose it?

rachel holley said...

Thank you I loved this post! So glad I found your blog!

I am planning my homebirth in 3 months. When I told my visiting teaching companion(who is a nurse) the first thing she said was "a lady in (the city over) had TWO babies DIE because of home birth!!" I wasn't pleased.